Category Archives: Social

Are your leaders leading in your online community?

Your leaders should be using your internal platform. Fact.
Too many times do we hear of business leaders not engaging on internal collaboration platforms such as Yammer, Jive and Chatter., often citing reasons such as , “I just don’t have time, I’m too busy”, or “I don’t do Facebook!”

REALLY??? They’re completely missing the point.

How else are they supposed to keep up with what’s really going on around their business?
We’re not talking word of mouth from some middle manager who wants to make sure their team looks good. We’re talking the real talk that employees are probably saying at the water cooler already, or in a private Facebook group, but they’re not hearing.

How else are they going to begin engaging with staff around issues that affect the workforce?
Staff are likely going to use the platform to voice concern over issues that affect the way they work, whether it’s the need for a new printer, or debate around a long term service award, or the latest changes in products. Ongoing conversations often start here and their presence is needed.

How else are they going to be able show the rest of the business how transparent they’re being?
The opportunity to show staff the work that they do in keeping the business running, the meetings they’re having, efforts to improve things, challenges they’re facing. This can all encourage debate and problem solving. I would hazard a guess it’s not happening right now.

How else are they going to gauge immediate opinion on key debates?
Real time response to key issues and news releases. Announcing that you’re introducing a good long term service award – post it on your community and see the responses that come in. Removing another benefit? Do the same and watch the debate.

Where else can a 2 second action, such as liking a post, have such an empowering effect on the recipient?
If you see a post you like, then Like it. The effect it can have on one of your employees to know that you read it, and you liked it, if nothing else, it will make them feel they are being heard and have the confidence to post again. Then imagine the potential when they actually begin engaging in conversation there too.

How else are they going to convince people that this new fangled community thing isn’t just a shiny new toy that the grown ups are given to the kids to play with. It’s an insanely valuable tool that will be used to engage, share, collaborate and be open with everyone across the WHOLE business.

Now, what were you saying about not having enough time to do this?
Surely this is just too important for you not to be on there?

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3 tips for using blogs in learning

Using social media capability in and around learning events should definitely be a part of your learning strategy as you integrate social connectivity to your company. A good way to get delegates to start using your network is to get them posting blogs, in whatever form they take on the platform you went with, as part of your learning experience.

Below are 3 ways to consider getting them blogging about their learning:

1: Prepare
Your learners could blog about their experience, thoughts and expectations of the subject matter and upcoming learning event. This way you and others on the session can learn a bit about them and what experience they have with the content already. You can find out ahead of the session what their expectations are and if they have any associated thoughts around it too. They can post what they want to get out of the session and what they want it do for them back in the office. All of this can hopefully lead to an extended conversation in the comments between the delegate, yourself and other delegates, past, present and future.

2: Homework
If it’s a session spanning a couple of days or more then you can use blogs for delegates to do “homework”. You can set assignment projects and research for delegates to think about, plan and post their results or findings. If there are any Further Reading topics, websites or blogs they can check out then they can blog about their thoughts having read or viewed these. Any learning they gather from this can be shared and passed on to the rest of the group at the same time.

3: Reflect
Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. Being able to digest what you’ve learnt, think about how you can use the new knowledge and how it will impacts you helps to get new information into a practical order in the learner’s mind. Also if you get your delegates to post a blog a month or so after the event then they can post about their experiences of trying to put this new learning into practice. Again the open nature of blogging means that everyone can learn from their learning’s, whether they’ve been on the course before, or are waiting to attend in the near future.

Bonus tip 4: Feedback
You can also use blogs to give and receive feedback. Hopefully your learning sessions are so awesome that within their blog posts your delegates are posting about how much they enjoyed it, which parts they found the most interesting/useful/fun and which parts less so. If not then you can invite people to post a summary blog of the session with their feedback in, almost like a Trip Advisor or Amazon review. Again the post is transparent and people can join in the conversation within the comments.

Of course it should go without saying that, if you are committing to using blogs in your sessions, you need to be ensuring that you’re reading them and Liking and Commenting on the posts. Make sure you’re connected and engaged with your delegates in this way and they’ll gladly connect and engage right back at ya!

Have you thought about using blogs to supplement your learning? Maybe you’re already doing it? Let us know how you plan to or currently do use blogs? Any tips?

So what is Social Learning anyway?

It’s a new thing, you know… that Social Learning.

It’s not a new thing at all.

Albert Bandura told us about it in the late 70s, suggesting that people can learn in a social context. We’re talking about observing behaviours, learning by example and the involvement of “human connection” when giving and receiving information and knowledge.

The same is still happening now but in this new, technologically advanced age, with the social and collaborative tools we now have available to us, this has evolved somewhat to a new type of social learning.

For those of us that often sit at work and find ourselves saying to someone “what do you mean you don’t remember Live Aid…” there is a group of people now, often referred to as GenY or Millenials, who are growing up in this new connected world where finding out an answer or learning something new is never more than a few seconds away.

There are some trains of thought that suggest Social Learning is specifically informal learning, but it should be acknowledged that there are elements of Social Learning that can happen as part of the formal process, often as an extension of it. Blogging in reflection would be an example. Getting people to share online the work they have been doing in the classroom and then continuing the conversation there would be another.

Similarly, the term Social Learning shouldn’t be confused with the phrase Social Media, as I often hear happening around conversations both in and out of my workplace. Social Learning can happen away from the online world, and has been for as long as man can remember. Social Media simply supports this process in being a tool that supports an action. (Isn’t all media these days social anyway?)

After all is said and done, no matter how it’s dressed up and given fancy titles and shiny new tech to help us do it, Social Learning has been around since the advent of time, it’s just the ways in which we are able to do it, and the tools that help us to do it, that have evolved. We’re still learning from others and following their examples.

I can search on YouTube for how to move a light switch on my living room wall and get a ton of hits, all with slightly different methods and techniques and different qualities of output, but I’m still learning from someone else’s experience. The same for posting a question on Twitter to my Personal Learning Network (PLN), the responses and advice that come in are still learning from others and their experience, they’re just not sat in the same room as me, possibly not even the same country. Tools such as Google Hangouts are starting to be used now as well, so this is extended even further and these kind of conversations can happen in some kind of face to face environment with no geographical boundaries.

So it’s not a new thing, it’s an old thing. And in fairness most of the technology’s not that new either anymore. But more and more companies are using this technology as part of their learning strategies these days, as growing numbers of them become more connected than ever before. Hopefully they can see it’s just an extension of what we’ve been doing forever.

In future posts I’ll be looking at the different ways you/we can use these social tools to enhance and support our social learning, predominantly in the workplace, but the beauty is it applies out in the real world too! (A good place to start would be my post about getting started on your company’s social platform)

What’s happening where you work? Do you have social tools that help you learn in work? What about outside work, what do you do to find stuff out?

The first steps on your internal network.

In my previous post, First Things First, I suggested that, before you start trying to decide which Enterprise Social Networking platform your company should choose, you give plenty of thought to the Why. What you’re going to use it for in the first instance. Hopefully by now you’ve done all that and got your shiny platform launched or ready to launch and getting set to invite people to join.

So what next? What do you do to begin adding and receiving value from the site? Below are what I believe should be the first 3 things that you need to be doing, or encouraging your users to do, on your internal social network.

1. Sort out your profile. This is a good starting point for you and one that is so often overlooked and left out in the grand list of priorities. Your profile is a great way to help people decide if they want or need to connect with you. Supposing someone likes a post of yours and wants to find out more about you – this is where they will go by clicking on your name.
Most platforms include information from profiles in their searches now too so, if someone searches for information about a topic that you’re an expert in, or have a passion for, your name and profile will come up within the results. Assuming you’ve bothered to fill out your profile and include the information in the first place.
Don’t forget to upload a profile picture so that people can recognise you in the coffee queue.

2. Introduce yourself. What better way to make yourself more accessible to your colleagues than to actually take the step to introduce yourself. I’m not suggesting you post a full length bio in a status update but let people know who you are, what you do and where your interests lie.

3. Build your community. Most of the leading platforms have some sort of group feature. Joining groups lets you make sure that you get to see the information and conversations that are the most relevant, interesting and appropriate for you. Look out for groups that are relevant to your job role, department and projects, but also look out for groups based around your interests and hobbies. This is a great way to make connections outside of your usual working group.
Similarly you should begin to look for people that you want to follow, the people that you are looking to pull value from on your network. At this initial stage this is likely to be your team members and co-workers but look for people in the wider business that interest or inspire you.

These for me are the first three things you should be doing when accessing your new internal social networking site, or encouraging people to do as a Community Manager.

Maybe you’ve already got an ESN platform – have you done these 3 things yet? If not then go ahead and take care of it now. If you have then well done, and look out for the next post where I’m going to be spending some time briefly checking through the good stuff – the top 10 things you should be doing on your internal networking site.

First things first – Why?

I attended a webinar yesterday, run by the Learning and Skills Group and featuring the esteemed Clive Shepherd alongside a delegation from Saba. The webinar was very interesting with Clive, as always, providing some real food for thought and the team from Saba giving some good insights into the way people could use social and collaborative platforms to support learning.

One of the things that really made me ponder though was how, in the chat area of the session, there were several people who were seeing the way Steve Atkins from Saba was presenting as too much of a product based speech and were asking for examples of how it was actually used. But they were missing the point. He wasn’t just talking us through the features of a product, he was telling us how people collaborate and network and learn from each other on the site. Yes, this used the features within Saba’s platform but heck, they’re the same features pretty much in any collaborative/social platform out there. It was what they were doing with those features that was important.

When we began conversations at the company I work for around introducing a company wide platform, at the initial meeting there were so many people with agendas around which platform we should be using, whether it be SharePoint, Success Factors’ Jam , Yammer etc. It took some real effort to get them to focus on why we want to use it in the first instance.

Most of these platforms do pretty much the same thing these days, it’s what you do with it that counts. What’s the reason for introducing one. Work more on how to prove the value to people within the business rather than which one they should be using. Think ahead to help people see why it’s being introduced and what it can do for them. They don’t care which one you use. They just care about how they’re going to be able to use it to connect and build relationships and networks. How they can recognise colleagues for great work and collaborate with people across the company to make it a better place to be. How they can work out loud and be able to show what they’re doing and see what others have been upto. How they will be able to blog and reflect upon their experiences. How will they be able to go out to the network with a question to a relevant group and get an answer from someone in the know. Spreading ideas, collaborating to make them become a reality.

Once you know why you’re going to use one then you can start thinking about which one is going to be the best, most appropriate one. But let’s not take a leap before we know why we’re leaping and where we’re going to land.

Isn’t all media social?

This post was sparked by a few things. The company I work for is in the process of going through some major changes culturally. I’ve been leading a Special Interest Group for one of our programmes looking at social media and web access capability from within. Coming out of that I am part of a group working on delivering an internal social network, which is very exciting, but I keep hearing these phrases like, “we can post a headline and have comments under it like social media style”. This got me thinking along the lines of do we really need to specify anymore? Read on…

Is there such a specific thing these days on the World Wide Web as Social Media. Or have we reached a tipping point of some sort where all media is social these days? Almost every site you visit has some form of connection to FaceBook or Twitter where you can share the page/article/video/image. So many articles these days encourage and have the facility for readers to comment on what they just read, extending the conversation into the realms of the whole world potentially rather than just the writer and reader’s initial one way route of debate.

Long gone are the days where a social media web site was something you had to register for specifically to participate in, a forum or an online community belonging to an organisation of one of your hobbies perhaps? Remember FaceBook’s origins as a way to connect with people (predominantly girls!) on a college campus. It was very specific.

I guess to some extent it’s now more about what you use the various networks to do for you.
For me, FaceBook is very much more about seeing what people are up to these days, friends, family, acquaintances, old school and college friends. I enjoy seeing their pictures and updates of family life, work life etc. A more fun and light hearted network. Twitter is predominantly industry based for me, although I do have plenty of friends on there too. With the advent of the Android app Tweetdeck, I have most people that I’m interested separated into columns so it’s easier to follow conversation themes: one for e-learning for example, another for music production, a songwriting one etc etc. I got lots more useful information via Twitter, although even now I guess, again via an application such as TweetDeck, I can post to both platforms at the same time. People re-tweeting valuable information that I can use to learn from or educate myself or that I just might not have been aware was out there.

And then there’s something like LinkedIn, a networking site very much aimed at the business and executive demograph, people looking to make business connections. Not to mention the myriad of subject specific communities people might be members of depending on the multitude of things we might all be into during our spare time, music sites, film sites, sports, cookery, gardening, fitness and health.

I guess we’re all now to some extent extrinsically linked (not sure if I made that up). What I mean is do you just sit a couple of links on our friends list away from someone else we know, maybe someone that’s a part of this network but that we didn’t realise we had as a mutual frined/colleague/contact. It’s so easy for me to now read an article on pretty much any website and share it with one if not all of my networks in just a couple of quick clicks. Is that what a connected web looks like?
Is it what Tim Berners-Lee meant when he tweeted #ThisIsForEveryone at the 2012 Olympics?

How connected are you in the world of Social Media? Do you use the various networks for different reasons?
Is the term becoming less relevant the more open and social the web becomes?